House members heed Aquino's call to abolish ‘pork barrel’-A A +A
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
HOUSE members pledged support to President Benigno Aquino III's decision to abolish the controversial priority development assistance fund amid the multi-billion peso scam involving detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Cavite Representative Elpido Barzaga Jr., a stalwart of the National Unity Party (NUP), and Laguna Representative Dan Fernandez of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) disclosed this during the weekly briefing of the House majority bloc Tuesday.
The two lawmakers said the 292-member chamber have started signing a three-paragraph statement calling for the abolition of their pork barrel funds.
Under the proposed 2014 budget, congressmen and senators are allocated P27 billion for their PDAF. Each congressman receives P70 million in PDAF yearly while senators get P200 million.
"We have agreed to abolish the PDAF under the 2014 budget. Instead, it will be up for the concerned government agencies to help our constituents on their health and education needs," Barzaga said.
Aquino earlier said that the PDAF will be abolished in light of a Commission on Audit (COA) report that pork barrel funds allocated to congressmen from 2007 to 2009 were misused.
The public was also enraged over reports that Napoles used the PDAF of lawmakers to fund dubious non-government organizations. She is now jailed at Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna over illegal detention charges.
In the statement, the appropriate government agencies, including the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD) and Department of Health (DOH) shall be tasked "to take care of our constituents," Barzaga said.
The lawmakers however admitted that there is no guarantee that their soft projects, including scholarships and medical aid, will be attended to by the concerned agencies.
"I have been saying all along that there is bad PDAF and good PDAF. There is really no guarantee since we don’t have discretion anymore. The solution is that government agencies, including those who are calling for the PDAF abolition, should also consider the situation of those seeking assistance," Fernandez said.
In the PDAF menu, P30 million of the total P70 million yearly PDAF is allocated for soft projects of congressmen.
Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the head of the House independent bloc, lauded the administration party's move.
"We are just heeding the call of the people, our constituencies...We are just being sensitive to the public opinion and we want only transparency and good governance," Romualdez said. He earlier filed a House resolution to scrap PDAF. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)